We caught another fast train out of the Termini station and headed for a day trip to Firenze…or as we say in English, Florence.  We soon moved out of the rainy Rome region and back into sunny Tuscany where we saw olive groves, vineyards and beautiful green hills.  At 150 mph it was only 90 minutes before were we in Florence.

We started with a visit to the Basilica Santa Maria Novella which is right across the street from the train station.  This gothic church was took over 100 years to build and it’s probably most famous for being the church where they first began to attack Galileo.  The picture below is of the altar in this church.

Now we walked through the crowded streets and made our way to the Piazza San Giovanni which is connected to the Piazza del Duomo. There’s a lot to see here!  First thing you see is Giotto’s Bell Tower which was completed in 1359.  It towers (pun intended) over the nearby Baptistry of Florence and the Duomo…Santa Maria del Fiore.  The Baptistry has the Doors of Paradise, as called by Michelangelo, which were said to have begun the Italian Renaissance.


Santa Maria is capped by Brunelleschi’s dome.  No domes had been built for a thousand years becuse the art/engineering of such domes had been lost with the fall of the Roman empire.  However the builders of this church wanted a dome and built the church without completing the roof…waiting for someone to figure out how to built a dome. It took many years for someone to figure it out, but finally Brunelleschi did…using the Roman dome in the Pantheon as his model.  This dome was the inspiration for many subsequent domes including Michelangelo’s design of the Vatican dome.  The picture below shows the Bell Tower with the dome to the right of it.


After marveling at these sights we wandered down Via dei Calzauiuoli which is lined with upscale shops along with gelato shops serving up some of the most delightful treats in the world.


Soon we came to another famous piazza…Piazza della Signoria.  Here is where is you’ll find many of the famous large sculptures of Florence all outside.  Most famous of all is Michelangelo’s David just outside the door of Plazzo Vecchio.  (Actually, the original David is in a nearby museum…moved there after his arm was broken off when someone threw a piece of furniture out the palace window.)


Also here are a few people…come from all over the world to see these statues in this square.  It almost looks like a mob scene from up on the platform:
The equestrian statue is of Cosimo I de’Medici and the tall statue is Neptune, crowning the Fountain of Neptune.  It has the face of Cosimo and it’s said that Michelangelo thought it was a waste of money  It’s near this fountain that Savonarola led the burning of books and art, hoping to to bring a return to Medieval values….and also where Savonarola was hanged and burned in 1498.


We then walked through the Avenue of Heros that cuts through the middle of the Galleria degil Uffizi.  Here are statues of many of the greats of Florence….Machevelli, Galileo, da Vinci, Michelangelo, and even Amerigo Vespucci.


Afterwards, we stood high above the banks of the Arno gazing at the Ponte Vecchoio which has been home to goldsmiths and silversmiths since the 1500s.  Did you know the Arno had a massive flood in 1966 which resulted in over six feet of mud and water in many of these famous sites?


Our last stop of the day was Basilica Santa Croce. Here are interred many of Florence’s notables including Galileo, Michelangelo, and Machiavelli.  It’s amazing just how many people are interred here.  The pictures below are of the altar and Galileo’s tomb.

We saw so much here in Florence…but there is so so much more to see.  You could spends a week here and only scratch the surface. Maybe we’ll get to come back someday!


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One Response to Florence

  1. Nan October 10, 2013 at 4:04 pm #

    Re: the Doors of Paradise. The antiquity of things in Europe is what I love to think about – that those same doors were there hundreds of years ago, that you can touch today what someone built centuries before the US even existed.

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